Details have been release by the FA for the round dates for the Emirates FA Cup and Buildbase FA Vase


Along with first division clubs, four second division clubs have been drawn into the competition:  Crook Town, Durham City, Heaton Stannington and West Allotment Celtic.

(The competition can accommodate 737 participating clubs for the 2020-21 season. This means the number of clubs admitted to the competition from Step 6 (our second division) has increased to 74.  Draws were conducted for each of the 20 divisions at Step 6 to determine which clubs would be accepted from those that had applied. From the 20 Step 6 divisions, 14 were allocated four entries into the competition, while the remaining six divisions were each allocated three entries. The number of entries allocated to each division was also determined by a draw.)

There will be no replays in the qualifying competion and due to the impact of Covid-19, prize money has been reduced to 2017/18 levels following two seasons of record investment in the FA Cup.

The draws for the first two rounds will be released on Tuesday 18 August 2020.

The dates for the first six rounds are:

Extra Preliminary Round Tuesday 1 September

Preliminary Round Saturday 12 September

First Round Qualifying Tuesday 22 September

Second Round Qualifying Saturday 3 October

Third Round Qualifying Tuesday13 October

Fourth Round Qualifying Saturday 24 October 2020

Competition Proper: dates to be confirmed


The draws for the first two rounds will also be released on Tuesday 18 August 2020.

There will be no replays, and because of the impact of the pandemic, prize money for the Vase has been reduced by £60,000.

Four clubs have exemptions to the second round:  Consett, Hebburn Town, Stockton Town and West Auckland.

Newcastle Benfield has an exemption to the first round.

The dates for each round are (with prize money for winners and losers in brackets):

First Round Qualifying Saturday 19 September (£550/£160)

Second Round Qualifying Saturday 10 October (£725/£225)

First Round Proper Saturday 31 October (£825/£250)

Second Round Proper Saturday 28 November (£900/£275)

Third Round Proper Saturday 19 December (£1,125/£350)

Fourth Round Proper Saturday 9 January (£1,875/£600)

Fifth Round Proper Saturday 6 February (£2,250/£725)

Quarter Final Saturday 27 February (£4,125/£1,350)

Semi Final Saturday 27 March (£5,500/£1,725)

Final Saturday 8 May 2021 (£30,000/£15,000)

The League Management Committee has announced a number of decisions for the forthcoming season.

These include the start of the new league season and cup competitions.

League fixtures:

The new season for the Ebac Northern League will start when spectators are allowed to attend matches.  As set out in the FA’s timescales, the intention is to start league fixtures on Saturday, September 5.  However, this is still subject to further discussions between the FA and the Government.

A final decision on the start of our new league season will be taken once the issue of spectators is resolved nationally.  The fixture list will be released at this stage.

Cup competitions:

The Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup will be suspended for the forthcoming season.  In its place, there will be a cup competition just for first division clubs, with matches to be played on a straight knock-out basis with ties to be decided on the night (with no extra time and draws at 90 minutes to be decided by a penalty shoot-out).

The Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup (which is for second division clubs) will be run as normal.

League chairman Glenn Youngman said:

“These are unprecedented times for non-league football and we have had to balance a number of issues.

“The priority is to complete league fixtures.  The delayed start to the season means there are fewer weeks for fixtures to be arranged.

“But spectators are essential to the livelihood of our clubs, so we hope the issue about when spectators can attend games will be resolved at a national level as quickly as possible so we can make a final decision about the start of the new season.

“I would also like to thank all the staff and volunteers and our clubs who are putting in so much work behind the scenes to prepare for the new season and to make it as safe as possible for players, officials and spectators.”

He added:

“The decision to run two, separate cup competitions for our two divisions has been a difficult one.

“However, we are conscious that clubs have been affected by the loss of income.  Running two cup competitions for the two divisions will reduce the pressure on the fixture list while, at the same time, providing much-needed revenue.

“We will keep the progress of the two cup competitions under review during the season.”

(Each county FA will make its own decision regarding the playing of their county cup competitions which are separate from the league.)

Matchday programmes:

Because of the Covid-19 guidance to reduce the amount of material/paperwork handled, we have advised clubs that paper copies of programmes should not be provided for league games and league-related cup matches.  Some clubs are providing programmes online – spectators are advised to check with a club directly to see if this option is available.

Pre-season friendlies:

As pre-season friendlies are being held behind closed doors, these fixtures will not be put on the league website to prevent spectators making unnecessary journeys to the match.  If, at some point, spectators are allowed into pre-season friendlies, then these fixtures will be added to the website.

Squad numbers:

For the 20/21 season the use of squad of numbers has been agreed to help facilitate the guidance for the Covid-19 pandemic.


The FA has announced the allocations of clubs to leagues for the 2020/21 season.

There are no changes to the Ebac Northern League which will run with the 20 teams in each division as last season.

(The club allocations are subject to ratification at FA Council which will be held on Thursday.)


The FA has released key dates for the forthcoming season.  These are subject to further approval of the Government and the Sports Ground Safety Authority:

The Ebac Northern League is at Step 5-6:

Start Dates:The following start dates are proposed for the commencement of the 2020-21 Season and conditional on Spectator Approval;
Step 5 and 6: From Saturday, 5th September 2020 **Discussions to take place with Step 5 and 6 Leagues to determine each Competition start date, noting The FA Cup EP Round will be held on Tuesday, 1st September 2020.

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round: Tuesday, 1st September 2020

FA Cup Preliminary Round:Saturday, 12th September 2020

FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round:Tuesday, 22nd September 2020

FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round:Saturday, 19th September 2020

FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round:Saturday, 10th October 2020

End date for the season: No later than Saturday, 15th May 2021


FA statement re: the return of grassroots football:

The FA can confirm that the UK Government approved its plan for the return of outdoor grassroots football late last night, Friday 17 July 2020.

As a result, the grassroots football community now has the opportunity to return to football and prepare for the start of the new season.

The FA has been working hard over recent weeks to prepare guidelines for the safe return of grassroots football and, following Government approval, these can now be published.

Football activity can take place with necessary modifications in place to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.

The FA would strongly recommend a phased return to competitive football activity as follows:

  • Until 31 July – When ready, you can begin competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people;
  • From August – Competitive matches to begin, for example pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions;
  • From September – Grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6, and FA Competitions can commence.

(Pre-season friendlies: We have a specific proposal lodged with DCMS, with oversight from the Sports Ground Safety Authority, on the return of Spectators at NLS Grounds. This is yet to be approved and as such, any pre-season fixturemust be, until advised otherwise, planned to be behind closed doors.)

Clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents/carers, spectators and football facility providers should read The FA’s full guidelines, which are accessible below, in addition to the latest Government guidance on COVID-19.

A return to competitive football should only happen once clubs and facility providers have completed the necessary risk assessments and comprehensive plans are in place.

A summary of key points to consider from The FA’s guidelines are listed for ease below:

  • Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session or match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend;
  • Clubs and facility providers should ensure that their facility is compliant with current Government legislation and guidance related to COVID-19;
  • Competitive training is now permitted, with groups limited to a maximum of 30 people, including coaches;
  • Competitive match play is permitted, with social distancing in place before and after the match, and in any breaks in play;
  • Players and officials should sanitise hands before and after a game as well as scheduled breaks throughout a game or training session;
  • Ball handling should be kept to a minimum with most contact via a boot and the ball disinfected in breaks of play;
  • Youth football coaches are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play and training;
  • Goal celebrations should be avoided;
  • Equipment should not be shared, and goalkeepers should ensure they disinfect their gloves regularly in breaks in training or matches and thoroughly afterwards. Where possible, coaches should only handle equipment in training;
  • Where possible, players, coaches and officials should arrive changed and shower at home. Use of changing and shower facilities must follow government advice on the use of indoor facilities;
  • Participants should follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport and walking or cycling if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle
  • Clubs should keep a record of attendees at a match or training session, including contact details, to support NHS Test and Trace;
  • Clubs should ensure they are affiliated with their County Football Association.

Separate guidance has been developed for clubs with teams competing in the men’s National League System (NLS) and the Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6. This will support these Clubs on the safe return of paying spectators and also the applicability of the guidance to facilities under Ground Grading conditions, to ensure the safe return of competitive matches.

James Kendall, Director of Football Development at The FA, said:

“We are delighted that the Government has given the go-ahead for competitive grassroots football to return. The past few months have been some of the most challenging times not just for football, but across society, and today’s news will be welcomed by the grassroots football community all over the country.

“Now that we are able to look ahead to the new season, it’s crucial that we continue to do all we can to follow safety measures, both as advised by the government and specifically for football.

“I would encourage anyone returning to competitive grassroots football to take the time to read this guidance, prepare thoroughly and to adopt our recommended approach to phasing football back in. I would also like to thank you for playing your vital part in helping our great game to get going again.”

FA Statement on the resumption of the National League System:

“We welcome the announcement and publication of the Government’s return to recreational sport framework today (see first link below) which means we can look forward to the safe return of competitive grassroots football.

 “We are now working to submit a comprehensive action plan and related guidance for Government approval as outlined in DCMS’s publication.  Once approved, we will publish new guidance for the grassroots football community.  We will confirm timings as soon as we are able.  In the meantime, competitive grassroots football can prepare to return and look forward to the start of the new season.

“Please continue to refer to the latest guidance documents for adult players, coaches, facility operators, parents and carers involved in re-starting grassroots football activity which came into effect from 4th July until a further update is provided (see second link), in addition to the latest Government guidance on COVID-19 (see third link below).  Please also note that guidance is being developed for clubs with teams competing in the National League System (NLS) and will be shared with those clubs directly in due course.”